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Tonsil Stones: Top Natural Ways for Removal and Prevention

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Nearly everyone experiences bad breath at some time or another, perhaps upon waking up in the morning or after a meal full of pungent ingredients like garlic or onions or perhaps due to other common causes.

However, chronic bad breath that doesn’t go away when you brush your teeth may be caused by a hidden culprit you may not even realize you have: tonsil stones.

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This article will discuss what tonsil stones are, what causes them, symptoms of tonsil stones and how to prevent them.

What are Tonsil Stones

Tonsil stones, clinically called tonsilloliths, are calcium deposits that form in the tonsils and remain lodged in the crevices that can be found there.

Your tonsils are made up of crevices, tunnels, and tonsil crypts. Different types of debris, like dead cells, mucus, saliva, and food can get trapped and build up in these pockets. Bacteria and fungi feed on the buildup and contribute a distinct odor. Over time, the debris calcifies to varying degrees of hardness and the result is whitish stone-like bumps on your tonsils.

If you open your mouth wide and stand in front of a well-lighted mirror and look at the back of your throat, you may be able to see tonsil stones as whitish or yellowish-colored “pebbles” right at the back of your throat, appearing to be wedged into your tonsils. You can watch the video at the end of this article to get a good idea of what to look for.

These little calcium deposits can be physically irritating, leaving you feeling as if something is stuck in your throat.

A study that conducted by researchers at the Tokushima University in Japan found that tonsil stones is a common condition and it occurred in close to 40 percent of patients, with the prevalence increasing with age.4

Tonsil Stones and Bad Breath

Tonsilloliths are crawling with anaerobic bacteria. These thrive on sugars and food particles that are present in the mouth. This layer is called biofilm, which is a thick network of living microorganisms. Beneath this film, stones are made up. Whether living or dead, these stones pack quiet a pungent smell.

In a 2008 study published in the British Dental Journal and performed by researchers from Brazil’s State University of Campinas-UNICAMP, it was determined that the presence of tonsilloliths increased the likelihood of bad breath (as measured by volatile sulfur compound levels) tenfold.3 That’s 10 times the potential for bad breath for people who have tonsil stones!

Causes of Tonsil Stones

Tonsilloliths are caused by bits of debris—food, bacteria, mucous membrane emissions, sloughed cells, or other “gunk” that can get stuck in the back of the throat—becoming calcified.

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It is more common among people who have suffered from tonsillitis and inflammation of the tonsils. In a study conducted by researchers at the State University of Campinas in Brazil tonsil stones were detected in 75 percent of tonsillitis patients who had bad breath but in only six percent of those with normal breath.3

Although tonsil stones may happen to even the healthiest mouth and to people of any age, they are more common in those who have insufficient oral hygiene and in teenagers or people with larger tonsils (more surface area means more room for stones to build up).

Symptoms of Tonsil Stones

Many times, people with tonsil stones do not even know they have them until they notice them in the mirror. However, at other times, tonsil stones can produce irritating and uncomfortable symptoms. Some of these symptoms can make life miserable and send you running for relief from the chronic discomfort.2 Common symptoms of tonsilloliths can include:

How to Prevent Tonsil Stones

Generally, keeping up with good oral hygiene is enough to prevent the formation of tonsil stones. Brush your teeth twice daily (brush your tongue as well) and floss, and in addition avoid these 10 common teeth brushing mistakes.

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However, if you are susceptible to recurrent stones, you may wish to consider some lifestyle changes to prevent tonsil stones:

Avoid using harsh, alcohol-laden oral rinses as part of your dental hygiene regimen, as these rinses can do more harm than help by killing off good bacteria along with the bad. Instead use this natural ingredient that can also remove tartar, clean plaque and destroy bacteria.

Adding these fermented foods to your diet could also prove helpful, as it helps to maintain the necessary balance between good and bad microorganisms, not only within your digestive tract, but also in your mouth and tonsils.

The Best Home Remedies for Tonsil Stones

If you find yourself with annoying tonsil stones and you want to get rid of them, there are several solutions that you can try at home. Here are the top home remedies for tonsil stones:

Salt water treatment

Making a salt water gargle can help to clean the back of your throat and provide some relief from the irritation of tonsil stones, and over time, the gargling can help to dislodge a pesky tonsil stone and bring more permanent relief.

Simply mix a small pinch of sea salt into a small cup of water and stir until dissolved, then gargle with this mixture a few times per day. If gargling with salt water doesn’t bring the relief you need, try one of these other methods.

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How a lollipop can help

Perhaps one of the most enjoyable methods for tonsil stone removal, the “lollipop treatment” is simple and tasty: just suck on the sucker. That’s it! The suction you create by eating a lollipop in the usual manner can help to pry the tonsil stone loose from the crevice it is lodged inside of.

Removing tonsil stones using a cotton swab, or toothbrush

If you can see your tonsil stones when you open your mouth wide and look in the mirror, you can try to physically push them out of place by using a cotton swab or toothbrush.

Your tonsils are delicate tissues so it’s important to be gentle. See your doctor about removing large or stubborn tonsil stones.

Simply take a cotton swab, or the blunt end of a toothbrush (not the bristle end—and be sure to clean the toothbrush handle thoroughly before and after treatment!) and place it against the tonsil stone, applying pressure. Using this method, you can physically leverage the stone out of place.

After using any of these methods, following up with a salt water rinse or gargle to clear the tonsils of any leftover debris is recommended.

Cough to remove a tonsil stone

You may first discover that you have tonsil stones when you cough one up. Energetic coughing may help loosen your tonsil stones.

If you cannot move your tonsil stones, it’s best to see your doctor.

For other ideas on how to keep your teeth healthy, read my articles:

1. Natural ingredient to remove tartar, clean plaque and destroy bacteria

2. 17 tips for natural dental care

Here is a video about tonsil stones:

Resources:

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